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The Care and Feeding of

Plasma Antennas
28 Nov 01
Joseph Lee Cox
Graduate Student
Electrical Engineering Department
Graduate Engineering Research Center
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jlc 28 Nov 01
Outline
• Basics of plasma physics
– How is plasma defined?
– Characteristics of plasma
• Wave propagation in plasma media
– Reflection and refraction
– Topics of interest in wave propagation
• Plasma Antennas
– Confined space plasma antennas
– Unconfined plasma antennas
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jlc 28 Nov 01
Outline
• Basics of plasma physics
– How is plasma defined?
– Characteristics of plasma
• Wave propagation in plasma media
– Reflection and refraction
– Topics of interest in wave propagation
• Plasma Antennas
– Confined space plasma antennas
– Unconfined plasma antennas
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jlc 28 Nov 01
Plasma Defined
• What is a plasma?
– Quasi-neutral collection of ionized particles
• Not all particles need to be ionized
– Unlike the other states of matter, primary
interaction with the environment is through fields
– Found in stars, nuclear weapons,
and occasionally…antennas
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jlc 28 Nov 01
Plasma Defined
• How is it created?
– Ionization, of course!
• Thermal ionization, RF and optical excitation
• Electric fields (not magnetic)
– General types of plasma
• Electrons and protons, heavier ions, antimatter?
• Thermal plasma and cold plasma
• Isotropic/anisotropic,
homogeneous/inhomogeneous
–don’t worry, just like any other dielectric
2
2
) (
) , (
l n
E Z
l n E
H
Z
A ÷
=
·
·
p. 52, Plasma Formulary
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Characteristics of Plasma
• Max Says…
– Maxwell’s equations govern the fields

– Lorentz equation governs the particles

– Particles in motion generate fields that generate
motion…Electric and magnetic fields are
intertwined in the plasma
– Key characteristic is the ‘plasma frequency’,
) ( B v E q
dt
v d
m




× + =
p = - V
c
c
÷ = × V = - V +
c
c
= × V D
t
B
E B J
t
D
H
 


 

 



 
0
p. 19, Plasma Formulary
p
e
e
e
p
m
q N
2
4t
e =
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jlc 28 Nov 01
Characteristics of Plasma
• Particle approach to understanding plasma
– Lorentz law determines motion of a charge in a field
• Motion of plasma particles under applied E

• Motion of plasma under applied B

• Motion under crossed electric and magnetic fields

• Motion under external forces
) (E q
dt
v d
m


=
Different charges will move in opposite directions
generating an electric field that opposes the the
impressed field and a net current results.
) ( B v q
dt
v d
m



× =
With nonzero velocity tangential to magnetic field,
charges will spiral in opposite directions while
maintaining the tangential velocity. Net current is zero
while induced magnetic field opposes the applied field.
2
) (
B
B E
v
d
 
 ×
=
The drift velocity is perpendicular to both E and B
fields with zero net current (both charges traveling in
the same direction).
2
) (
B
B g
q
m
v
d


 ×
|
|
.
|

\
|
=
The drift velocity is similar to the above, yet charge is
important. Positive and negative charges will travel in
opposite directions producing a net current in the
media opposite to the curl.
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jlc 28 Nov 01
Characteristics of Plasma
• Particle approach (cont.)
– Statistical solution sometimes useful
• Boltzman transport equation

–a includes the effects of all noncollisional forces
and is the single particle distribution function
–Numerically intensive for all but minute distr.
• PIC, particle-in-a-cell, a mathematical model
–Calculates the fields and potential of several
cells and in discrete time intervals approximates
plasma flow
collision
s
s v s
s
t
f
f a f v
t
f
|
.
|

\
|
= V - + V - +
c
c
o
o
s
f
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jlc 28 Nov 01
Characteristics of Plasma
• Fluid approach to understanding plasma
– Is plasma a fluid? Can it be contained?
• Pressure is important, thermal (gas) and magnetic
– Magneto-hydrodynamic approximation
• Maxwell displacement current neglected



– Models of plasma generally seek to understand
observations rather than predict new ones
( )
( ) ( ) B B v v
t
v
v
t
× V × ÷ ÷V = V - +
c
c
= - V +
c
c
u
p p p
p
p
1
0


( )B B B B B V - +
|
|
.
|

\
|
÷V = × V × ÷
2
1
2
1
) (
1
2
u u
The first equation is continuity, the second
Newton equation of motion with mechanical
pressure force density and magnetic force
density.
The magnetic force can then be written as the
sum of the gradient of the magnetic pressure and
a secondary tension.
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Characteristics of Plasma
• Plasma containers, no Tupperware brands here
– The ionosphere may be considered unconstrained
• No physical container, but Earth’s fields are culprit
– True unconstrained plasmas diffuse away
– Magnetic bottles are used in fusion experiments
• Other fusion reactors, stars, use gravity
– What about ordinary fluorescent tubes?

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Characteristics of Plasma
• Cutting edge uses of plasmas, an aside
– Plasma deposition in semiconductor fabrication
– Thermonuclear fusion, a never ending hallway
• Will we care about the Middle East then?
– Ion propulsion, slow acceleration – wicked top speed
– Laser power sources
– The best use of plasma is…
• Manipulation of electromagnetic waves!
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jlc 28 Nov 01
Outline
• Basics of plasma physics
– How is plasma defined?
– Characteristics of plasma
• Wave propagation in plasma media
– Reflection and refraction
– Topics of interest in wave propagation
• Plasma Antennas
– Confined space plasma antennas
– Unconfined plasma antennas
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Wave Propagation in Plasma
• Development of the dispersion relation is the key!



– Collision less, cold plasma with no B field


• Note that n<1 for all propagation frequencies
–Phase velocity >c, group velocity <c
Dispersion
Relation
Phase Velocity Index of Refraction
Group Velocity
Wavelength
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Wave Propagation in Plasma
– Collisional, cold plasma (dense gas)
• Effective frictional force on the electrons

Hard sphere approximation
Maxwell-Boltzman thermal velocity
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Wave Propagation in Plasma
• Reflection and refraction
– With index of refraction in hand, apply Snell’s Law

– Refraction is the same as in a dielectric
• For a cold plasma the dielectric has the form



– Reflection occurs when , zero
e e =
p
g
v
|
|
|
.
|

\
| ÷
=
±
±
p
x
x
i
i
c
c c
c c
c
0 0
0
0
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Wave Propagation in Plasma
– A linearly varying plasma density will produce a
parabolic wave trajectory
• Apex of parabola is where
e e =
p
Lockwood, p. 31
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Wave Propagation in Plasma
• Topics of interest in wave propagation
– Space physicists use propagation to measure the depth
and plasma densities of the Ionosphere
• Ham radio operators frequently bounce
transmissions off of the Ionosphere and occasionally
duct through layers of plasma
– Space shuttle loses radio connectivity during re-entry
as the shuttle is cloaked in a plasma sheath
– Hypersonic aircraft (under study…no Aurora)
–Similar concerns as with the shuttle
–Plasma aerodynamics may be holy grail to HST
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jlc 28 Nov 01
Outline
• Basics of plasma physics
– How is plasma defined?
– Characteristics of plasma
• Wave propagation in plasma media
– Reflection and refraction
– Topics of interest in wave propagation
• Plasma Antennas
– Confined space plasma antennas
– Unconfined plasma antennas
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Plasma Antennas
• Confined space plasma antennas are the focus here
– Requirements for a plasma antenna
• Must develop a sufficient plasma density
–May provide a stimulation for plasma gyro-
rotation
• Must drive the antenna with a radiant source
–Some antennas are simply lenses while others
actively contribute to the radiation
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HOW DO WE DRIVE A PLASMA ANTENNA?
Essentially similar to a conventional antenna
but use a capacitive coupler

Additional power is needed to maintain the plasma
Plasma Antennas
PLASMA ANTENNAS: A Novel Antenna
PARADIGM FOR Telecommunications and Radar
G.G. Borg, J.H. Harris, D.G. Miljak
and I.V. Kamenski
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Plasma Antennas
– Surface wave driven antennas rely on a unique
property of plasma/dielectric interface
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PLASMA SURFACE WAVES ARE RADIALLY
EVANESCENT
Comparison between a plasma and a metal
c
r
= 1 - e
pe
2
/e(e + iv) c
r
= 1 - o/iec
0

j = -iec
0
(c
r
-1)E j = oE

The effect of plasma is similar to a metal. The wave
is guided with low penetration into the plasma.




Wave fields vary as ~ f(r) exp i(|z-et)
Dispersion obeys: c
r
T
0
I
1
(T
p
a) K
0
(T
0
a) + T
p
K
1
(T
0
a) I
0
(T
p
a) = 0
where T
p
2
= |
2
- c
r
k
0
2
and T
0
2
= |
2
- k
0
2

P
L
A
S
M
A

A
N
T
E
N
N
A
S
:

A

N
o
v
e
l

A
n
t
e
n
n
a

P
A
R
A
D
I
G
M

F
O
R

T
e
l
e
c
o
m
m
u
n
i
c
a
t
i
o
n
s

a
n
d

R
a
d
a
r

G
.
G
.

B
o
r
g
,

J
.
H
.

H
a
r
r
i
s
,

D
.
G
.

M
i
l
j
a
k

a
n
d

I
.
V
.

K
a
m
e
n
s
k
i

Plasma Antennas
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Plasma Antennas
– Surface wave driven plasma antenna
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Plasma Antennas
– Semiconductor driven plasma antenna
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Plasma Antennas
– Electro-optic modulated
plasma antenna
As the modulated laser passes
through the plasma it produces
potential gradients the force the
plasma to oscillate at the
modulated frequency. This
antenna, therefore, can be used
to receive ELF and VLF signals
and is being considered for
deployment on submarines.
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Plasma Antennas
– Advantages of a plasma antenna over metal antenna
• Non-conductor when turned off (stealth and EMI)
• Quick turn on/turn off times (~msec)
–Only use as needed
• Rapidly reconfigurable in wavelength and aperture
• RF energy is not stored in antenna
–Eliminates ringing when turned on/off
– Disadvantages of a plasma antenna
• Efficiency … plasma attenuates wave energy
–Expect ~50% efficiency, compared to 90+%
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Plasma Antennas
– Can we apply antenna theory to design a plasma
antenna? Maybe…
• First determine desired angular spectrum
• Inverse Fourier transform to determine aperture
• Design plasma antenna to match aperture
–Select E, plasma density throughout aperture
• A field programmable plasma antenna
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Plasma Antennas
• Unconfined plasma antennas
– Some are accidental, and just plain nuisances
• Space Shuttle returning to Earth
–Engulfed in a plasma sheath, radio silence
– Some are purposeful, and ingenious
• Refraction of radar waves around aircraft
• Psuedo-random reflectors (D. Kalluri, U Mass Lowell)
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Summary
• We dusted off the plasma physics texts,
discovered some interesting wave phenomena
and revealed the glory of plasma antennas.
• Plasma antennas are showing significant promise and
receiving the attention of commercial industries and
the military
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Acknowledgements
Several sources were used (abused) for this seminar
– Lecture notes from AFIT courses
• Plasma Physics, Dr. Bill Bailey
• Ionospheric Electrodynamics, Major Devon Della-Rose
• Introduction to Space Environment, Major Devon Della-Rose
– Several excellent texts
• Introduction to Ionospheric Physics, Rishbeth and Garriot
• Plasma Physics, Sturrock
• Classical Electrodynamics, Jackson
• Electromagnetics of Complex Media, Kalluri
– An enormous internet cache
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Backup Slides
Velocity parallel to magnetic field
Velocity normal to magnetic field
Separating above into drift and ‘gyro’
Rewriting normal velocity equation
Time-independent terms
Time-dependent terms
Final equation for crossed fields
p
p
E
m
q
dt
dv
=
( ) B v E
m
q
dt
dv
× + =
± ±
±
) (t v v v
g d
+ =
±
( ) B v B v E
m
q
dt
dv
g d
g
× + × + =
±
0 = × +
±
B v E
d
( ) B v
m
q
dt
v d
g
g



× =
2
B
B E
v
d
 
 ×
=
•Particle Motion in crossed electric and magnetic fields
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Backup Slides
Equation of motion for uniform fields
Nearly identical to crossed E and B
Substitute above with effective E
Drift component of motion
) ( B v
m
q
g
dt
v d

 

× + =
( ) B v E
m
q
dt
dv
× + =
g
q
m
E
eff


=
2
B
B g
q
m
v
d


 ×
=
•Particle motion in gravitational and magnetic fields
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Backup Slides
• Polarization drift
10 20 30 40
x
-10
-8
-6
-4
-2
y
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Backup Slides
• Transverse gradient drift
-2 -1.5 -1 -0.5
x
2
4
6
8
10
y